| Central Iowa water providers establish new regional drinking water authority
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Central Iowa water providers establish new regional drinking water authority

A decade of collaboration and negotiations among a dozen cities and water utilities in the Des Moines metro area recently came to fruition with the establishment of a new cooperative regional drinking water authority -- Central Iowa Water Works (CIWW).

Central Iowa Water Works governing boardCIWW is responsible for water system planning, drinking water treatment and wholesale delivery of drinking water to about 600,000 people in central Iowa. Its founding members are the communities, utilities and rural water agencies of Ankeny, Clive, Des Moines Water Works, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Polk City, Urbandale Water Utility, Warren Water District, Waukee, West Des Moines Water Works, and Xenia Rural Water District. 

CIWW held its first governing board meeting April 24 with representatives from the 12 founding organizations. Jody Smith of West Des Moines Water works was selected board chair. (Pictured from left, CIWW Board Trustees Sue Huppert, Des Moines Water Works; Chelsea Huisman, alternate for Polk City; John McCune, Urbandale Water Utility; Tom Cope, city of Johnston; Mayor John Edwards, city of Clive; Jake Anderson, city of Grimes; Diane Munns, Des Moines Water Works; Mayor Tom Phillips, city of Norwalk; Jody Smith, West Des Moines Water Works; Mayor Courtney Clarke, city of Waukee; and Carol Freeman, Warren Water District.)

“CIWW came together in large measure because we all face the same challenges in the delivery of safe reliable drinking water: capacity, resiliency and managing source water supply,” Smith said. “With the costs of developing new source water and building new treatment facilities on the rise, it’s more and more difficult for any one utility or provider to ‘go it alone.’

“Though this was a decade in the making, the committed work and negotiation during the past four years was essential to making CIWW a reality,” he added. “The collaborative agreement reflects how our new regional authority will cooperatively plan and produce the water necessary to power future economic growth and support the region’s water needs.”

Other CIWW board officers include Vice Chair David Jones, City of Ankeny, and Secretary Diane Munns, Des Moines Water Works. William Smith, a retired attorney and energy consultant who previously served on the Iowa Utilities Board staff, was approved as interim director.

The new water authority will take ownership of members’ source water treatment facilities and core transmission lines. Founding entities that produced drinking water will receive financial credit for transferring their treatment facilities to CIWW. Those without treatment facilities will receive credit for their historical capital contributions for the construction of shared regional assets. 

Members will continue to own and maintain their respective local distribution systems and water storage facilities, as well as manage administrative functions including their customer service and billing. Current producers will engage in 20-year contracts to continue operating the production facilities.  

“Given the increasing pressure of workforce issues, regulatory activity and other economic conditions, regionalization and collaboration within the water service industry is an absolute necessity,” said Tracy Mehan, executive director of Government Affairs with the American Water Works Association.

“It is a necessary step needed to provide safe water at affordable prices for ratepayers,” he added. “Congratulations to Central Iowa Water Works.”